Throwback Thursday: Rules about “holy water.” Who knew?!?!

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on June 16, 2016 and has been slightly revised.


Today, I was listening to the April 8, 2016 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show on the Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM, out of Buffalo, New York. This particular broadcast featured Catholic priest, Dave Baker, and moderator, Rick Paolini, taking questions from listeners.

During the show, Rick related how he and his wife often volunteered at the Divine Mercy Shrine in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. According to Rick, visitors often bring empty receptacles and fill them with blessed “holy water” provided by the shrine from large dispensers kept outside. One winter day, a gentleman showed up with “14 or 15” plastic containers to fill up for his friends, but it was so cold outside that most of the holy water in the shrine’s dispensers had frozen. The gentleman improvised by filling each of his containers with just a little unfrozen holy water, saying he would return home and fill them to the brim with tap water before distributing them to his friends. Rick was troubled by this and asked priest Dave if it was copacetic to dilute holy water as the gentleman had done. Priest Dave answered that it was okay to dilute holy water, but the ratio of holy water to tap water had to be greater than 50 percent otherwise the holy water would lose its “holiness.”

Huh? Are you serious?

Catholics believe water blessed by a priest can bring great spiritual and temporal benefits to people and objects that come in contact with it. Catholics dip their fingers in holy water fonts at church and make the sign of the cross on their forehead, chest, and shoulders. Zealously pious Catholics often have holy water fonts in their homes. At Catholic religious services and events you can often see the officiating cleric blessing the crowd by sprinkling holy water on them.

Holy water has its roots in pagan amulets and talismans. There’s nothing in the Bible that hints at anything like Catholic holy water.* The Bible reader can’t imagine the apostles or disciples of the early church using pagan holy water. Priest Dave says holy water can’t be diluted by more than 49 percent tap water. Really? Where do Catholics come up with these exacting ecclesiastical rubrics? The poor, deluded gentleman and his fifteen friends were unknowingly blessing themselves with holy water that had no holiness. Not that the results were ANY different either way.

Friends, none of this scrupulous and superstitious ritualism saves. Salvation is as simple as the story of the thief on the cross. Repent of your sin. Turn to Jesus Christ. Accept Him as your Savior by faith alone. Then ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that teaches His Word without compromise. You’ll never need another drop of holy water ever again. Jesus is all you need!

“I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts, a people who continually provoke Me to My face, offering sacrifices in gardens and burning incense on bricks.” – Isaiah 65:2-3

Nope, we’re not done with holy water rules quite yet. How do Catholics correctly dispose of holy water? Since holy water is a blessed sacramental, you can’t just flush it down the toilet like a bad clam. Excess holy water or holy water that’s become foul must be poured directly onto the ground or on plants growing outside.

*The “holy water” in Numbers 5:16-28 is referred to nowhere else in the Bible. Commentators suggest the water used to make the bitter potion that was to be given to the suspected adulteress was either to be drawn from the Tabernacle laver (and thus consecrated/set apart/holy for ceremonial use) or that it was to be “pure” (i.e. holy) running water as the Septuagint translates it. I’m partial to the latter interpretation. Either way, there are no similarities between the water used to make the potion with the holy water of Roman Catholicism.

Postscript from 2021: This “rules about holy water” post from 2016 is the sixth-most-viewed post ever published by this blog, with close to 2600 views in five years. Why? I assume many scrupulous Catholics came across this post precisely because they were attempting to find the RCC’s rules regarding diluting or disposing of holy water. Sad.

24 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: Rules about “holy water.” Who knew?!?!

  1. I remember it well! I had a little bottle of “holy water” in my home. If I remember correctly the bottle was in the shape of a Mary statue. I may have gotten it from the Marian shrine we used to visit in Haverstraw, NY. 🤦‍♀️My sadly very lost cousin would drink it. 🤔 Hopefully all those who read this post in the past got revelation as to the utter nonsense of RC teaching.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Cathy! Yes, I dipped my finger into the holy water font and blessed myself every time I went to mass. We didn’t have a holy water font in our home growing up because my mother was strictly a Sunday Catholic.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Agh, utter superstition, not to mention that ‘water’ is a vital element in witchcraft rituals.
    I remember Christians in church showing me the “Holy Water” they got from Jerusalem. One woman, who had cancer, told me she would drink a little everyday, “it can’t hurt!”.
    I said yes it can! It will damage your faith and insult the Lord!
    She didn’t speak to me for weeks.
    Press on brother!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Lisa Beth! As genuine believers we have the Holy Spirit, Almighty God, indwelling us. No need for “holy water” or other such superstitious religious props.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. And whenever I think this nonsense can’t get any worse … Thanks for this insight into the very pathetic practices of those who follow such folly. If only they would commit to read their Bibles daily, they would see how truly corrupt their religion is. Great post, Tom.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, David! Yes, RC-ism uses much of the same parlance as Gospel Christianity, but it’s full of these scrupulous superstitions in addition to its false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. I “miss” being able to listen to Catholic talk radio like I had in my previous job because questions about these legalistic religious rabbit holes would inevitably come up.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Amy. Yes, there are so many blatant superstitious practices in the RCC, not to mention their false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.


  4. Day is starting out well, did homeschool with math with the kids ,and about to do a BIble study lesson. and then going to take another daughter one on one to get pastry and talk to her…something we started last week! Will read this later!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow that is amazing this is such a popular post! I pray God uses it especially as you teach it biblically and also for preaching the Gospel hope!
    This whole holy water and its dillutation shows its so formulaic in a way that its foreign to Biblical Christianity. Thanks for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, brother! Once again I’ll say I miss listening to Catholic talk radio because the conversations would sometimes touch upon absolutely inane rules and practices like the allowable dilution percentage for holy water. You’re just not going to read/hear about these kinds of torturously scrupulous legalities from sources that examine RC-ism in a general fashion.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks! Yeah, evangelicals generally just see Catholicism’s veneer and assume it’s Christian without ever hearing about these mile-deep legalistic rabbit holes.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Sometimes there’s nothing to say but know that I am shaking my head! Nathan is getting educated by his Catholic coworker. Man drives 45 min each way multiple times a week for mass. I asked Nathan if there was anyway to get his thoughts on the vicar of Christ (to which Nathan said, “what?!” I said, “Dave will know.” Nathan said, “he hates the pope” and a lot of other things I won’t repeat on here. Nathan did say that his wife would like to talk with me. I said, “sure, but I am not looking for a recruiter.” I was thinking of giving him Kreeft’s book in interest of learning which of these 40 keeps him in the RCC?! Sorry for the tangent!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so interesting (and contradictory) that conservative Catholics hate the pope, but of course it’s “understandable” because Francis is undermining their beloved Latin mass and other cherished doctrines and traditions. Also interesting that Dave’s wife desires to convert you to RC-ism. Two problems with that: 1) you probably don’t desire to try to merit your salvation after being saved by Christ and 2) the RCC teaches all religionists and even atheists can merit salvation if they sincerely follow their religion and/or conscience so there’s no reason to proselytize. Unless you’re an ultra-conservative Catholic who rejects the ecumenical overtures of Vatican II.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Catholics are smugly confident in their history without realizing the contradictory church fathers opposed as many modern Catholic doctrines as they supported.

        Thanks and have a great weekend, too! Yes, I’ve been collecting the early leaves with the grass catcher as I mow the lawn each Monday. I’ll have to bring out the “big guns” leafblower in another week.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Interesting thoughts on this subject… I heard of a priest squirting holy water on people with a water pistol, by way of social distancing during Covid. I also remember a certain elderly relative of ours who used to try to shake it on one of our children who suffered from a chronic condition at the time. Well I’m glad to say the Lord healed her… not the holy water!

    Liked by 1 person

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